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NHS Porter Honoured with Posthumous Award.

On a mantle-piece in the North-East of England proudly sits the Dennis Southern Award – an award that might not be known to many, but means so much to those that do. You may be wondering who is Dennis Southern, why is there an award in his name and why does it mean so much to certain people? Dennis was a porter with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust from 2007 to 2021 and was nominated for the MyPorter Award 2020 by Nicola Cartwright – Area Estates & Facilities Manager at the same Trust. The awards were the first time a portering awards event had been done specifically for portering teams. What made the entry for Dennis unique, is that it was made posthumously – sadly Dennis had passed away from cancer just 2 weeks before the closing of the awards, leaving behind treasured friends, family and colleagues. It was felt by the judges that although the entry more than warranted a place for consideration at winning the MyPorter Award 2020, it just wouldn’t do Dennis, his name and his legacy justice by presenting a one-off award. It was then decided that a new award would be created for the MyPorter Awards 2021, which launches today, which alongside the MyPorter Award itself and 4 other categories, the Dennis Southern Award – For Endeavour brings this years’ awards to having a total of six categories. The Dennis Southern Award – For Endeavour, will be presented in honour of Dennis Southern, a porter that showed commitment, dedication, passion and care through his career and had a positive impact on every individual that met him, whether that was a member of staff, a patient or patients family member. He encompassed everything that a porter needs to be and more. This award is to celebrate him and the individuals within our NHS portering services who embody Dennis' morals, ethics and outlook. A longstanding member of the team and a true porter that all porters can look up to and be proud of. The Dennis Southern Award itself was created and presented to his friends, family and colleagues at the beginning of this year, with it being displayed for its first full year by his wife at home, whose mantle-piece it sits so proudly on. The aims for the MyPorter Awards 2021 is that it will host a live portering conference and awards ceremony, where it is hoped some of those close to Dennis will present the award to it’s first ever winner, live on stage. The award is in the form of a shield, which will allow the name of a new winner each year to be engraved onto the Dennis Southern Award, allowing Dennis’ name and legacy to live on and inspire a new generation of porters. Dennis was known and loved by all who knew and worked with him. He could engage with patients, delivering a level of professional and compassionate dignity to everyone he met. When Dennis was diagnosed with cancer in 2015 and underwent surgery, he typically returned to work quickly and with as little fuss as possible. Similarly, in 2017 and again in 2020, and when he required further treatment, Dennis returned to the job he loved as soon as he was able. Devastatingly, in late 2020, Dennis received the news that cancer had spread and could not be treated. Dennis reluctantly stopped working at the end of 2020 to spend time with his wife, also an NHS Trust employee and his family. Sadly, Dennis passed away on 1st February 2021. He left a huge hole in his beloved portering team, but with a legacy of dedication, hard work, respect and compassion.

Nicola Cartwright, Estates and Facilities Manager at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust nominated Dennis back in 2020. She explained: “Dennis was an incredibly hard worker, he was part of the Northumbria family and embodied the values of the trust. Originally, I nominated Dennis for the award because of his hard work and commitment, despite the personal challenges he faced outside of work. He was an absolute pleasure to be around, whether he was communicating with staff or patients, he was always so polite and kind. Sadly, Dennis passed before he could be presented with his award, but the fact that his legacy lives on through the MyPorter awards is a real nod towards the man, and porter, that he was.”

The reasons listed for honouring Dennis are the same ones shown across all six categories and why the MyPorter Awards were created in the first place. The NHS is a big machine which we all love, but everyone has their role to play – Porters are a vital cog in that big machine and you could say they are the unsung heroes of the NHS - these awards are here to shine a light on the good work they do – here is your chance to showcase your staff’s achievements to a national audience, share best practice stories when it comes to improving patient experience, highlight your successes either as an individual or team and even use it as a tool to improve staff culture and morale.

The six categories at this years’ MyPorter Awards 2021 are:

1. MyPorter Award 2021

2. Dennis Southern Award – For Endeavour

3. Portering Team of The Year Award

4. Outstanding Contribution to Patient Experience Award

5. Leadership of The Year Award

6. Newcomer of The Year Award

Entries are open now, with a deadline of: January 16th 2022

Shortlists will be listed before a live portering conference and awards ceremony takes place in February where the winners will be announced. To enter, click here:

Image: Mark Smith Business Development Manager at GV Healthcare (creators of MyPorter, right) and Damon Kent, Managing Director of NHFML - Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (left) present the Dennis Southern Award to Dennis' family.


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